Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bill Paxton (1955-2017)

Damn it all, my sister let me know that the news broke that Bill Paxton has died.  He was only 61.  I have no words, only tears right now.  Bill Paxton is in the top five on my list of favorite actors who are not only extremely important to me, but whose characters and movies matter at a deeply emotionally level as well.

Aliens, Titanic, Agents of SHIELD, U-571, Vertical Limit, Twister, Navy Seals, Terminator... I own all those on DVD.  I may be one of the only people who watches Titantic for Bill Paxton's bookends more than for the rest of the movie.  And he's the only reason to sit through "we got cows" Twister.

I've adored him since the first time I saw Aliens and Hudson opened his smart-ass mouth.  He's an actor I would watch in anything, just because it's Bill Paxton, and he has never disappointed me.

I'm so sad and crushed by this news.  My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and co-workers, and to the fans like me whose world was always brightened by his movies.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Simple Question Tag

I'm taking this tag from Hamlette, as it looked fun.  If anyone would like to play along, please do!

1. How does your morning start?
Somewhere between 5 and 6 Silver wakes me up to go outside, though nowadays, I'm usually awake before he is because of Thinking.  Then I fall back asleep until he paws on the glass to come back in at 6:30-ish. Then I feed the cats, feed Silver, get dressed, and take Silver for a walk. Then I make tea, eat a Kind bar, put on music, check email and blogs, etc., and start work at 7:30. 

2. What's your favorite color?
It depends.  Maroon.  Purple.  Black.  Blue.  Probably blue.  Pale blue eyes I can get lost in and deep soothing velvety blue to run my hands over, and mountain sky blue that tells me I'm home.

3. What book are you reading right now?
Re-reading "The Sleeper Wakes" by HG Wells for the umpteenth time.  It's my favorite book by him.

4. What is your opinion about having a mobile phone?
I only carry it when I have to, which annoys my family no end, because that means I do not take it walking or hiking.  However, I love being able to text my sister, and the various movie dialogue I use for notifications never ceases to amuse me.

5. Your favorite actresses? (Pick at least two)
Jessica Chastain has rapidly shot to the top of the list, cuz she's amazing and can do anything.  I also quite love Naomie Harris, Rooney Mara, and Daisy Ridley.  Barbara Stanwyck is still my favorite classic era actress.

6. What's your favorite movie right now?
Rogue One, as I just talked about yesterday.

7. Snow or rain?
Both!  There's nothing like being out in the snow, I even love shoveling snow.  But I don't live in the snow anymore, and I'm more than delighted with rain.  Silver loves rain, so we go walking no matter the weather, even in a downpour.

(pic my dad just sent me of where he lives - I just want to take Silver and GO down that road! Also, just look at that blue Sierra sky.  Nothing like it.)

8. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Homemade vanilla.

9. To which countries have you been?
Canada, Mexico, Australia

10. What are you doing mostly in the evening?
After another walk with Silver, it's usually cooking dinner for family and hanging out with them, or writing, or watching movies, or IMing with my best friend.

11. How old are you?
I am neatly bracketed by my birthday buddies, Hugh Jackman and Will Smith.

12. Which countries do you really want to visit?
Australia again.  Great Britain.  Italy.

13. What's your dream career?
Nowadays?  To be an actor. (Flying helicopters for fun on the weekends.)

14. If you were cast in a movie, which character would you love to play?
The protagonist's wife, who's a spy (he's not). She's killed in the first ten minutes by the bad guys, who are trying to get back something she stole that they desperately need.  She doesn't tell them where it is, and her death and that macguffin kick off the protagonist's journey through the rest of the movie.  Or I'd love to play a stormtrooper in any future Star Wars movie.  Or I would really really love to play a Bond girl, when Ben Mendelsohn gets to play the antagonist.  I'd be his girlfriend, the one who betrays him to help Bond, and gets killed for it in some uniquely colorful way that only Bond films can do.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rogue One Revisited

Rogue One is coming to the end of its theatrical run, and this makes me sad.  I’m enjoying it too much on the big screen.  Every viewing I’ve been to on this movie, and almost especially those in the last two weeks has been nearly sold out.  We actually got turned away from one viewing a couple weeks ago because it was sold out, and we ended up having to go to completely different theater.  I don’t think I’ve ever attended a movie this many times with full audiences every single time.  (How many times have I seen it, you ask?  Only eleven... which is not nearly enough.)

This movie has indeed become my favorite of the Star Wars universe films, for so many reasons.  It’s given me my undisputed favorite character from any of the movies:  Director Krennic.  Followed immediately by my second favorite:  Cassian Andor.  It’s the film to finally give me my nearly perfect SW universe character match (Cassian).  It’s got my favorite droid (K2SO).  I love every single character in this movie, except one (sorry, Lyra).  It’s rare that I want to be friends with movie characters.  That’s not my thing.  But I want to be friends and hang out with all of these people.  Even the tertiary and bit characters, like Blue Leader and Pao and Melshi and a couple other one-line pilots and Imperial officers and Admiral Raddus and and and...  I have ridiculous quantities of love for all of these characters.

I love the planets and the scenery.  I love the vast quantity of Stormtroopers on screen at any given time.  I love the ships.  I love the dialogue, the music, the costumes, the props, and every blooming thing about this movie.

And watching Rogue One remains the most amazing and unique experience.  I honestly am not sure I’ve ever sat through a movie quite like it.  What I mean by that is that the second half of the movie, from when the Rogue One team assembles and head off to Scarif, is one giant unstoppable emotional crescendo.  It never lets up and it never plateaus, it keeps building.  And building.  Just when you can’t think it can go any higher, it does, and then it does it again.  All movies build to their climax scenes, of course, but not sustained for this long.  There are little ups and downs.  Not in Rogue One.  There are no downs.  It goes up and up and up until you think it can’t go any higher, and then there’s the Death Star coming out of hyperspace, and then it leaps even higher with Vader igniting his light saber, and then it goes even higher when the Tantive IV escapes and we’re back in those bright while corridors where it all began in 1977, and then it impossibly goes even higher when Leia appears (and that's just the last fifteen minutes, it does that throughout that last hour).  My sister and I have run through every single movie we’ve ever loved, all the ones we've watched over and over in the theater before this, and we can’t find a single one that builds so steadily quite the way this one does, or one that matters emotionally to us as much while it’s doing it.  That is the key.  Movies are merely enjoyable popcorn fun unless they matter emotionally.  And this one matters emotionally on a hardcore level.

The sheer joy, satisfaction, and revved up energy I experience when coming out of the theater after a viewing of Rogue One feels like I've been launched to the moon.

Part of the joy of this one is also that it’s brought back an unexpected wave of nostalgia for the sheer wonder that was 1977.  I didn’t believe that could be possible.  All those childhood feelings, what it felt like to sit in the theater back then, the excitement that wasn’t just excitement for a cool new movie, but for a game changer.  Rogue One brought all that back, for both me and my sister.  It reminds me of everything I fell in love with Star Wars for in the first place.

And it has made me love the original Star Wars and Empire films with a renewed passion that I haven’t had in a while.  (Yes, I’m aware that I’m dating myself.  But I cringe every time anyone calls the first film “A New Hope.”  It was Star Wars when it came out and changed my life, and that’s what I will always call it, except under extreme protest.  It’s Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi.  End of story.  And Han shot first.)

This nostalgia is probably no surprise, as most of the people making this movie are around my age and went through exactly that same thing.  Star Wars means the same thing to them as it did to us.  My sister picked up the Visual Guide (which is wonderful), and the foreword by John Knoll could have been written by me or my sister.  We read his words and went Yep.  What he said.

I have my action figures, I have my t-shirts and sweatshirts.  I have books and magazines to pour over.  I have my wristbands with my favorite quotes. I even have my Rogue One Klennex box, which just might be the oddest movie merchandise ever but I love it.  It all lets me hang onto the movie high that Rogue One induced for a little while longer.

I have no idea what Star Wars VIII, or even next year's Han Solo movie will bring, but bring it on.  I prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around.  If only someone had told me back in the day, relax!  Star Wars will not only still be going strong thirty years from now, but if anything, it will be going stronger.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The future of movie theaters?

I've spent countless hours in movie theaters.  I love movie theaters.  Sitting in a darkened theater for two hours is one of my happy places.  Or... it used to be.  But old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be, apparently.

First is this new trend of forcing you to select your seat at the box office window.  I. Hates. It.  Precious.  It's nearly impossible to tell from their charts how close your proposed seats are to the screen.  I like to sit fairly close, but not too close.  But I like the screen to dominate my view.  I've already had to sit way farther back than I remotely like on a couple viewings because I can't tell!  I feel like I'm going to need to carry some sort of giant cheat sheet with me, listing every single auditorium in every single theater we go to, and which rows represent the distance I like.  Now, if it's a viewing that's nearly empty, as does happen, then switching seats isn't a problem.  But really.  This whole trend has added a level of stress and unhappiness I've never had before when going to the theater.  Even when a screening was nearly full, I could still find seating that pleased me just walking in.  Now... not so much.

Second is this new trend of changing the stadium seats to be these wide, long recliner seats.  Oddly, in an age of cramming more people in, this is doing the opposite.  The theater I was just in, that would have had a good 30 rows or so, now only has 8 rows.  And because the seats recline, apparently they felt the close rows no longer need to be stadium-style, so we're regressing back to my childhood days of staring up up up at a screen, rather than looking straight ahead or slightly down via stadium seating.  AND, the way they rebuilt the theater to accommodate these recliners... they put a very wide *&^$&* aisle where the best seating would have been previously.  Seriously, people.  WTF???  And of course, you have to choose seats ahead of time, so I had no idea the theater even had this new configuration.  So, it's either sit too close and below the screen.  Or sit too far away and be up higher.  STRESS!  UNHAPPINESS!  Why do they think this is a good idea, exactly?

Third, our AMC has not only done one and two, but their theaters are now dine-in theaters.  I just experienced this madness this week.  When you hand them your ticket to get in, they tell you, "Don't go to the concession stand, your waiter will come to your seat to get you whatever you need."  As you walk back to your auditorium, you pass kitchens.  Full-on restaurant kitchens.  With chefs.  Waiters are walking the theater balancing trays.  You don't walk into the theater anymore, a waiter escorts you to your seat.  The seats have trays (which prevent you from crossing your legs), and there are menus, real silverware wrapped in a cloth napkin waiting for you.  There is a call button between seats to call your waiter to you anytime you want.

I'm not kidding.

I was appalled.  I go to the movies to sit in the darkness, be undisturbed, and get lost in a fictional world for two hours.  It appears that joy is going to be taken away.  Now there are people walking about carrying food, being distracting.  Now there is the clatter of silverware on plates, glasses being set down on trays, and the smell of meals, being distracting.  Even their fricking call button is illuminated and glowing right beside your head.  I had to take the napkin and cover it up it was so irritating.  All these things pull me out of the movie.  All these things make me want to cry. 

I just want to watch a movie on the big screen in peace and quiet.

I don't want to pick the wrong seats ahead of time.
I don't want to recline.
I don't want to eat a meal.
I don't want a waiter coming to check on me.
I just want to watch a *%@%$^ movie IN PEACE AND QUIET.

*deep breath*

I guess we really are heading towards the world depicted in Wall-E.  Everyone on their personal recliner, not having to get up or move, everything coming to you.